SoCal Football Fans Reminded to Drive Sober on Super Bowl Sunday

Sports:  Football helmet, ball on table.  Pretzels and beer. Superbowl.

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Super Bowl Sunday continually ranks as one of the most dangerous times of the year for drunk driving deaths -- so officials are urging fans planning to go out to watch Sunday's matchup of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles to "Drive Sober Or Game Over!"

One-third of all crashes in the state are due to impaired driving, records show. According to the California Highway Patrol, during the last five Super Bowl Sundays, there were 1,363 DUI crashes that resulted in 43 fatalities and 756 injuries in California.

To combat those stats, law enforcement will be increasing DUI patrols this weekend in hopes of nabbing impaired drivers. The DUI operations will last through Monday at 2 a.m., and will cover numerous areas in the city and L.A. County, including the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood.

The operation locations are subject to change.

The LAPD checkpoint operation on Sunday are scheduled to take effect at the following times and locations:

-- DUI Saturation Patrol from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. in the Wilshire division area;

-- DUI Saturation Patrol from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Newton division area;

-- DUI Saturation Patrol from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the North Hollywood division area; and

-- DUI Saturation Patrol from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the South Bureau division area.

"Our message to drivers is `Drive sober or game over,"' said Doug Shupe, Auto Club corporate communications manager. "A DUI collision could forever change your life or someone else's life, leave you with a lifetime full of guilt, prevent you from getting the job you want and cost you a lot of money. Your entire life could be negatively impacted by making the wrong decision to drive after drinking alcohol."

According to Auto Club research, a first-time DUI conviction in California could cost a driver $22,578 in court, arrest and DMV fines, fees and penalties, alcohol education classes, attorney's fees and additional insurance costs. Beyond the financial penalties of a DUI, there is a much greater cost, which is that of a human life.

That's why the Auto Club, law enforcement and Mothers Against Drunk Driving are reminding fans to plan ahead before heading out to watch the game.

"We urge everyone to put choosing a non-drinking, sober driver at the top of their Super Bowl party checklist," said Patricia Rillera, MADD California state executive director. "Whether you are going out or staying in, celebrate with a plan."

In addition to alcohol and driving, legal recreational marijuana and driving is also a concern. Whether you smoke, vape or consume edibles, getting behind the wheel while high on marijuana poses a risk to everyone on the road as well. In fact, next to alcohol, marijuana is the drug most found in drivers who have been involved in collisions, CHP says.

Research shows drivers involved in crashes who also tested positive for THC were three to seven times more likely to be responsible for having caused the crash.

Marijuana's effects on driving abilities include difficulty maintaining attention, slower reaction times, inability to stay in traffic lanes, difficulty judging distances, slower decision-making and reduced coordination.

"We will be on high alert for impaired drivers," said Capt. Jared Perry of CHP's Central Los Angeles Area. "Alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to an arrest for driving under the influence. Cannabis, prescription medications and illegal drugs can all impair your ability to drive and send you to jail."

The Auto Club, MADD and law enforcement suggest Super Bowl Sunday party hosts ask guests to designate a sober driver in advance, keep phone numbers for sober ride services handy, take car keys from partygoers as they arrive and don't let them drive impaired, serve food and non-alcoholic drinks and water and do not serve alcohol or cannabis to anyone under age 21 -- it is illegal. Last, allow guests to stay overnight, if possible.

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